Sri Lankan po­lit­i­cal cri­sis deep­ens, In­dia still mum

US Re­acts, Says Demo­cratic In­sti­tu­tions Must Be Re­spected

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES NATION -

New Delhi: The gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to tread cau­tiously on po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments in Sri Lanka de­spite Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena hav­ing dis­solved par­lia­ment, a move seen by many as an­other set­back to the demo­cratic process af­ter he sacked Prime Min­is­ter Ranil Wick­remesinghe.

While the US was quick to re­act, say­ing that the dis­so­lu­tion deep­ened the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis and that demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions be re­spected, In­dia did not is­sue any of­fi­cial state­ment on Sirisena’s move. Of­fi­cial sources said In­dia will wait for the sit­u­a­tion to be­come clearer.

The NDA gov­ern­ment still has reser­va­tions about Mahinda Ra­japaksa, who was ap­point- ed PM “il­le­gally’’ by Sirisena in place of Wick­remesinghe, but it does not want to be seen as tak­ing sides in what is the most se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal cri­sis to have hit the is­land na­tion in years. MEA spokesper­son Raveesh Ku­mar had on Fri­day, be­fore the Lankan Par­lia­ment was dis­solved, ex­pressed hope that the demo­cratic process would be re­spected.

The Cen­tre also be­lieves it may not be the right time to wade into the cri­sis as Wick­remesinghe is likely to ap­proach court against the dis­so­lu­tion and de­ci­sion to go for polls in Jan­uary.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports from Colombo, one of the rea­sons for the flare up be­tween Wick­remesinghe and Sirisena was the for­mer’s in­sis­tence on giv­ing a con­tract for the con­struc­tion of a con­tainer ter­mi­nal at the Colombo port to a Ja­pan-In­dia joint ven­ture as per an MoU signed ear­lier by the three coun­tries.

Wick­remesinghe has ad­mit­ted that there was a heated ex­change be­tween him and the Pres­i­dent in a cab­i­net meet­ing last month. He also told Reuters that “there was a pa­per put forth to not give it to In­dia, Ja­pan.”

This has again led to talks about the in­volve­ment of for­eign hand, a eu­phemism here for China, in the on­go­ing po­lit­i­cal cri­sis and about great power ri­valry. The In­dian gov­ern­ment for now though seems loath to fan that sen­ti­ment, es­pe­cially at a time when ties with China are on an up­swing.

The Chi­nese em­bassy in Colombo has re­port­edly rejected al­le­ga­tions that it was in any way re­spon­si­ble Wick­remesinghe’s ouster. In­dia though has se­ri­ous rea­sons to be ap­pre­hen­sive about Ra­japaksa’s re­turn to power.

The NDA gov­ern­ment has reser­va­tions about Mahinda Ra­japaksa (left), who was ap­pointed PM ‘il­le­gally’ by Pres­i­dent Sirisena, but it does not want to be seen as tak­ing sides

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